South Dakota's right wing apparently believes the way to school the mainstream Republican Party is to put out lots of report cards. Some nameless characters issued the John Birchy "South Dakota Freedom Index" in September. The still anonymous SDRepublican.org issued its 20-vote report card in November.
Now potential GOP spoiler Gordon Howie puts his fake blogroll's name to the "Republican Legislator Voting Score Card." On the good side, Howie at least makes clear this latest report card is a product of his organization.
On the bad side, Howie commissions the smallest sampling of votes of these three score cards. SDRepublicans.org sampled 20 bills and resolutions from the 2011 Legislative session. The Birchers checked ten pieces of legislation. Howie and a couple guys at IHOP cherry-pick just nine bills from the 2011 session and claim their rigged sample "confirms" that "the Republican Party has been infiltrated with liberal/moderate candidates who belong in the Democratic caucus."
Weakening the usefulness of this score card is Howie's inclusion of a number of votes that don't help us distinguish elephants from RINOs:
- SB 89, clarifying municipal power to assess street maintenance fees, passed unanimously.
- HB 1133, which excuses kids from school the moment their folks file a home school application, prior to board approval, drew only four nay votes, all from Democrats.
- SB 65, a bill authorizing alternative accreditation for private school participation in the high school activities association, drew only one Republican nay.
- SB 176, which made human trafficking a crime in South Dakota, passed unanimously in the Senate and drew just three nays, all GOP, in the House.
- HB 1248, an extension of a half-percent tourism tax, drew nays from only a tiny minority of Republican legislators.
- SB 104, a proposal to mandate school bullying policies, was only voted on once, by seven members of the Senate Education committee, meaning that this bill tells us nothing about the voting record of 98 legislators.
- SB 161, which would have extended protections from discrimination to soldiers and veterans, was killed by a solid Republican majority in the Senate, meaning this bill tells us nothing about the voting record of House Republicans.
Howie's pals chose a handful of bills that offer little if any help to voters seriously trying to distinguish conservatives from liberals on the GOP side of the aisle. As with his fake poll, Howie has no good data to back up his claims.
Update 20:40 CST: When Rev. Rep. Steve Hickey scores only 50% on a conservative Christian Republican purity test, you know something's wrong. The good Hickey smells folderol-fueled fundraising.